Legal campers choosing the Algarve


By Paula Martins,
in Algarve ·
23-10-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Across the Algarve, you are able to find people camping illegally however, it was inside a legal site that The Portugal News met with two couples to show their way of life and the legal side of camping in the region.

Those living on the legal sites in the Algarve said that they feel safer and share one thing in common: “camping feels like home and we have all the conditions to live well”.

When we arrive at the Camping de Canelas in Armação de Pêra, we are welcomed with a smile from Eduard Bolsius, who takes us to the camping’s coffee shop, we find the spot where he goes every morning to drink his “bica cheia” (full expresso) and watch television while he learns a bit of Portuguese with the help of subtitles.

Bolsius is from the Netherlands and already knows a bit of Portuguese, after a month of classes and 18 years of living in Portuguese territory with his wife Jolein, at least 6 months a year, he is more than used to the Portuguese culture. Although he says no, he does already mix Portuguese with English and is able to have occasional conversations with his neighbours and the members of the Canelas team that have known him for some 18 years.

As we arrive at the coffee shop, Bolsius greets each person he passes with a smile. He is already known by everyone. Eduard Bolsius starts to talk about how he feels welcomed and embraced by the whole community – Portuguese, foreigners and also the staff, even outside the camp site.

“Mister Fernando” the owner of the camping Canelas is also close to the people and is always updating them about the Covid 19 new rules. “We have all the information we need, we feel safe”, said Eduard Bolsius.

When we visited his caravan, we realised that his reality was much better than we could have imagined. The caravan had a space attached to it that made a living room and outside there was a garden and small yard. It was warm inside, very warm for a cold day, and comfortable.

Eduard has a very active life, he plays golf, walks a lot and cycles. At 76 years old, Eduard only has 75 percent of his lung capacity due to lung cancer, however he highlights how happy he is in the Algarve: “My life here is golf, walking, cycling, swimming and I read a lot – I’m glad to be here”, he said.

The same can be said of David and Lesley Jones from Wales, another couple who also live 6 months per year, from 2013, in the Algarve at Alvor Camping. David Jones` routine is: “I walk around 6 or 7 km in the morning and after I ask Lesley ‘Darling, what do you want to do today?’”, he said.

David and Lesley Jones choose camping because they like to be active and leave the site to go shopping occasionally because it “is cheaper”, she said and he agreed. However, they don’t need to go out every day. They have everything at the site including a minimarket, swimming pool, masseuse and manicure inside the camping park. Also, the camping is huge so they can take walks around the park.

The question arises – do you get the same conditions if you choose illegal camping? Eduard says no. “This is immediately out, because the legal camp sites have everything we need, but it costs money. Illegal camping does not have any form of organisation and takes people away from where they should be camping”, he says. The hygiene, nowadays more than ever, is an important point to highlight. “They clean everything three times a day, in the legal camping sites, which is good”, in his opinion. He added: “In March and April they closed the bathrooms, but we have one in our caravan, so there was no problem”.

Regarding security, the two couples emphasise the good behaviour of the Portuguese people, who maintain safe distances and respect the security rules. They feel safer here than in their home countries – less infected and encountering generally better behaviour.

While on the whole the experience of camping legally in the Algarve is very positive there are of course some down sides.

The only negative point that Eduard Bolsius stressed is the lack of privacy, but “we learn how to deal with this”, he assured. The social contact, the nice environment and the feeling of being home compensates for this, “that’s why we don’t go to hotels and apartments”.

David and Lesley Jones could only find one disadvantage: “It is very far from home”, they said.

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